Liverpool’s hopes of returning to the Premier League summit were frustrated as they fought out a high-quality draw at Manchester City, who paid a heavy price for Kevin de Bruyne’s missed penalty.
Reds manager Jurgen Klopp opted for an all-out attacking line-up at Etihad Stadium on Sunday, with in-form Diogo Jota included alongside the established front three of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
Liverpool, who knew victory would see them leapfrog Leicester City and Tottenham, reaped an early reward when Salah put them ahead from the spot in the 13th minute after Kyle Walker brought down Mane – but City levelled just after the half-hour when Gabriel Jesus turned superbly before slotting past Alisson.
Pep Guardiola’s side wasted a golden chance to go ahead before half-time when De Bruyne rolled his penalty wide after handball had been awarded against Joe Gomez following a lengthy video assistant referee (VAR) deliberation.
Both sides pushed for the winner but it was City who grew stronger as the game went on, Jesus sending a glorious headed chance wide to leave both sides having to settle for a point.
Liverpool will be happier with a point
Klopp did not come to the Etihad to hide behind the door – Liverpool’s attacking formation that had City on the ropes for the first 20 minutes was proof of that.
In the end, however, you suspect he will be happier with a point than Guardiola as the Reds clearly ran out of steam in a second half when the home side looked far more likely to snatch the winner.
This is a Liverpool team already missing Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara – and they also lost Trent Alexander-Arnold in the second half – but they still came to a formidable opponent and refused to be beaten.
Even on the back foot, the reigning champions carry an unmistakeable air of menace in the shape of those attackers – particularly Salah and Mane, who were always on the prowl.
Liverpool, uncharacteristically, grew sloppier in possession as the game went on, but they still managed to limit City’s opportunities.
Klopp will never be fully content with a point but he will surely still be satisfied because his team showed real defensive resilience, apart from that moment in the second period when Jesus slipped the shackled and headed Ferran Torres’ cross wide.
Liverpool are in third place in the Premier League, a point behind Leicester – and meet the Foxes at Anfield after the international break.
Man City will still be eyeing title
At first glance, the sight of Manchester City in 10th place in the Premier League with 12 points from seven games might represent a disappointing return for a team that has set such high standards in recent years.
Yes, it could have been much better and Guardiola is likely to have been disappointed not to fashion victory against a Liverpool side most will regard as their closest challengers.
In reality, though, City and Guardiola can look at the bigger picture and believe they are right in what is shaping up as the most open title race for years.
A clutch of clubs will fancy this could be their year and City are only five points behind Liverpool, and six behind leaders Leicester, with a game in hand.
Guardiola’s new central defensive partnership of Aymeric Laporte and Ruben Dias is settling, and he will no doubt hope forward Sergio Aguero can finally shake off the injury problems that have dogged him in recent months.
This is shaping up as a topsy-turvy title race – and Manchester City have every right to feel they will be right in it.